Art Pepper (USA / jazz, bop)

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Art Pepper (USA / jazz, bop)

Post by Musicgate on Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:32 am

Art Pepper - Laurie's Choice (1993)
Previously Unreleased Material - Under special license from Laurie Pepper

Label: LaserLight Digital, Delta music, 17 012, Germany
Genre: jazz, bop



By Laurie Pepper
Between 1977 and his death in June of 1982 (at the age of 56) Art Pepper made his last comeback. His life til then had been a pattern of departures and returns. Art was unlucky enough to have been an addict when lengthy prison terms for possessors of narcotics were the norm. He was arrested and incarcerated regularly, and it's astonishing that he could emerge from the prison system, from years of institutionalization and criminalization - still intact as a human being and as an artist. But he did. His lifelong artistry is celebrated by his fellow musicians, by critics and fans. His humanity is attested to by those who knew him well. I knew him very well and knew that he'd been damaged by what he'd done to himself and what had been done to him. He could be misanthropic and suspicious. But he hadn't been broken. He always believed that beauty was truth and that emotional truth was the most important thing in the world. He believed that he could create beauty out of the pain he'd suffered. That inspired him to play and gave him joy.

Art toured the U.S. with Stan Kenton's various bands and orchestras in the late '40s and early '50's. After that, his problems kept him in California - until 1977 when a tour was arranged by a fan and good friend, record producer, John Snyder. After that came an immensely successful brief tour of Japan, a trip to England, publication of his biography, "Straight Life," and then almost unceasing touring of the U.S. and Canada, Europe and Japan.

The music on this album was recorded in the course of those tours. Art felt he had to make up for time lost and allowed, even encouraged, recording of his live performances. He made me purchase a Sony TCD 9 and begged me to drag it around to the gigs so that we wouldn't lose any more music. (Unfortunately the TCD 9 was stolen, so only a few performances were recorded that way). When Art died, I gathered up all the cassettes made by me and by others and put them in a safe deposit box. This year, ten years after his death, I opened the box and brought some of those tapes home to listen to. Each one reminded me of a particular night in a particular place. All together they reminded me of road hassles, wonderful meals, terrible accommodations, great audiences, bad weather, good friends. There were thrilling discoveries. There were sad disappointments: Why does the tape always seem to run out right in the middle of a terrific solo? How come all you can hear is the bass drum? Some nights were lackluster, unredeemable. On other nights the band got in the groove from the first note and stayed there. All of the performances contained here are wonderful, and technically, I've judged that they're not bad. Engineer, Kris Solem, has EQ'd them so that all band members can be heard but none too much. The sax sounds like Art sounded. And what these recordings lack in technical perfection, they make up for in musical beauty.

"Allen's Alley" is just marvelous bebop (also known as "Wee"). This was the last tune of the second, and final, set recorded on November 24th, 1981 at a concert at Yubin Chokin Hall in Tokyo. It was recorded on a TCD 9 by the sound engineer for the concert using the house system. Tokyo audiences are somewhat blase, and as a result, they're sometimes a little unresponsive. Art always worked hard to work them up, because to a certain extent he fed off the energy he felt from the audience. On this night he got them out of their seats. The band is George Cables, David Williams, and Carl Burnett.

"Patricia" is reason enough for this set of recordings to be issued. It was recorded in May, 1980 in Atlanta Georgia, by me using the TCD 9 and Sony BE One Point Stereo ECM 990 F microphone. The band is Milcho Leviev. Bob Magnusson. and Carl Burnett. This is probably the best performance Art ever gave of his original tune. We'd been covering a lot of ground and the band had performed a lot together by the time we arrived in Atlanta. They were tight and playing beautifully. The concert was held at a small theater-in-the-round. The audience circled the performers, and, as Milcho began his solo, Art sat down next to me (I was in the front row) to listen. This solo is especially lovely. At one point, Art turned to me and whispered in my ear, "Milcho sure has learned a lot from me." You can hear Art's exclamations of admiration as he returned to the mike, and his remarks to the audience at the end are as stunning as the performance. Listen to his voice break as he says, "That's jazz."

"Straight Life", Art's most famous original chart, was recorded as was "Allen's Alley" off the house system by the same engineer. Of course it's the same band, but it's a different house. "Straight Life" was recorded at a concert in Sapporo on November 22, 1981, and this was probably the best concert of the '81 tour. As I said, the audiences in Tokyo are, typically, restrained. The audiences in Hokkaido are impassioned, and their enthusiasm always inspired Art to heights of eloquence, energy, and, in this case, speed.

"Kobe Blues" was the last tune (a wild, slow blues) of a wild night at a nightclub in Kobe. Japan in 1978. It was taped by a Japanese radio station. The show was very late getting started due to technical problems. Art was frustrated and tired, and he used those emotions to good purpose on this blues. The band is Milcho Leviev, Bob Magnusson, and Carl Burnett.

Tracks info:
1. Allen's Alley [9] (Denzil Best)
2. Patricia [13] (Art Pepper)
3. Straight Life [6] (Art Pepper)
4. Kobe Blues [7] (Art Pepper)

Personel info:
Carl Burnett (d),
George Cables (p),
Milcho Leviev (p),
Bob Magnusson (b),
David Williams (b),
Art Pepper (as),

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Art Pepper - Tokyo Encore (1979)

Post by Musicgate on Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:34 am

Recording Date: Recorded at SHIBA YUBIN CHOKIN HALL - TOKYO on July 16th and July 23rd 1979
Digital remix by Danny KOPELSON, FANTASY STUDIOS
Digitally remastered by QUAD TECK DIGITAL, LOS ANGELES
Label: DISQUES DREYFUS FDM 36551-2
Genre: Post-Bop





Laurie Pepper, August, 1991
Japan and live Japanese audiences were intrinsic to Art's last and best success. It was the response of a Japanese audience at Yubin Chokin Hall in Tokyo (the venue of these concerts) in 1977 that convinced Art to undertake his final comeback. He'd somewhat hesitantly accompanied Cal Tjader's band to Japan for a brief tour. He'd feared that his criminal drug record would turn the authorities against him; he dreaded that they'd stop him at the airport and send him home. When they didn't and when his music — his mere onstage presence — was received with overwhelming jubilation and affection by masses or knowledgeable fans, Art realized that he did, in fact, have an audience and that it was time to go back to work, playing jazz. He began to tour and record. He returned to Japan in 1978, and in 1979 returned again with a top-flight band and with the understanding that two concerts would be recorded by JVC in Tokyo, one on July 16th, 1979, the other on July 23rd. Such concerts could not fail. On Art's part there was the conviction that colored all his later work — that each performance was a matter of life and death. In addition, he was addressing an audience who could be relied upon to hear, understand, and encourage him. The band included his favorite pianist, George Cables, Geo/ 's favorite bassist at that time, Tony Durty and Billy Higgins, everybody's favorite drummer. Nothing was recorded that was less than wonderful. One album was released in 1979, "Landscape," and in 1 980, a second was released in Japan only, "Besame Mucho." In 1989, Galaxy Records acquired the total concert material for their 16 CD box, "Art Pepper: The Complete Galaxy Recordings." Galaxy producer, Ed Michel, engineer Danny Kopelson, and I worked together to remix everything, since the mix of the first two albums left something to be desired, and then the material in this album was, for the first time (and in that large format only), made available to the public, material which critic Gary Giddins wrote represents "great" Art Pepper. He called these concerts the portrait of an artist "with his soul on fire." In this set we get to hear six tunes that were peculiarly Art's own. He recorded "Besame Mucho" for the first time in 1956. It was a masterful and highly praised performance, but during the twenty years or so that followed, Art never played or thought of it again. Until he began to tour Japan in 1977. That old recording had obviously touched Art's Japanese fans. They vehemently requested it, he played it, and he found it so congenial (he was one of the world's greatest ballad players with a natural affinity for latin rhythms) that he began to play this latin ballad regularly from '77 on. "True Blues" is a boppish uptempo blues Art wrote especially for this date. It was his own tune written for his own voice. His idiosyncratic "Landscape" was also written for the ccasion. Gary Giddins has called "Landscape" a "gnostic original," one of Art's greatest charts. And everyone who knows Art's music knows that "Over the Rainbow" was truly his as well. Every time he performed it he rewrote it and made it his own. It was one of the songs that earned him early stardom, and he played it all his life. He used it, as he used all ballads, to express his deepest feelings. "Rainbow" just cut a little closer to the bone. This is a stunning version of it here. "Straight Life," fast and feverish, is another Pepper original, a tune he played to quicken his pulse, test his chops (and his sidemen), and dazzle the crowd. The last song of the set is "Avalon," a tune for which Art felt a great affection. Unlike all the others, "Avalon" was not a trial, a test, or a testimony. It was a song to play with, to stretch out and swing with, to relax with and remember what it was to be a kid on Central Avenue — in love with jazz.
This is first class and previously unavailable Art Pepper. He's playing great charts at an inspiring venue with an ideal band. It's been scrupulously mixed and is presented here with love.

Tracks info:
1 - BESAME MUCHO (Velasquez - Skylar) 11:44
2 - TRUE BLUES (Art Pepper) 9:35
3 - LANDSCAPE (Art Pepper) 9:31
4 - OVER THE RAINBOW (Arlen - Harburg) 9:45
5 - STRAIGHT LIFE (Art Pepper) 6:41
6 - AVALON (Rose - Jolsen - De Sylva) 8:21

Personel info:
Art PEPPER : Alto sax and clarinet
George CABLES : Piano
Tony DUMAS : Blitz bass
Billy HIGGINS : Drums

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